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Governor Northam Signs Delegate Lopez’s HB 2128 Into Law Addressing the ‘Charleston Loophole’ in Virginia

By: Del. Alfonso Lopez

March 25, 2021

Introduced by House Majority Whip Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington), HB 2128 was one of the first pieces of legislation signed into law by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam before the end of the session. The bill expands the amount of time state police and agencies have to conduct a background check on a ‘default proceed’ gun sale, from 3 days to 5 days.

Individuals who buy a gun from a licensed dealer must undergo a background check. Prior to this year, Virginia law enforcement officials only had three business days to complete this check and if the background check wasn’t completed within that time, dealers were allowed to sell the firearm anyway. This is known as a “default proceed” sale.

While 89.5% of background checks conducted through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System provide an answer within seconds or minutes about whether an individual is legally allowed to buy a gun, approximately 10.5% of cases require further investigation and review by FBI and ATF agents.

“Last year, 235 background checks that were eventually rejected took longer than three days,” Lopez said. “That means 235 gun sales went forward that should have been rejected. That’s an unacceptable number. The only acceptable number is zero. That’s why it was absolutely critical we worked to close the ‘Charleston Loophole’ this session.”

The General Assembly had previously passed legislation expanding the time allowed for a background check from one day to three days. Delegate Lopez had also passed legislation putting an end to the practice of an online certification being sufficient enough to receive a concealed handgun permit.

While Lopez is incredibly proud of the progress made, he acknowledges there is still more work to be done.  “We’ve made amazing progress,” said Lopez, “but more work remains in the area of sensible gun violence prevention, including on assault weapons, high capacity gun magazines, and ‘smart guns’. I’m confident we will get there.”

Lopez continued, “We must do everything we can to keep our communities safe, protect families, and build a Virginia that lifts everyone up and leaves no one behind.”


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